Healthwatch Essex named Active Workplace of the Year

Healthwatch Essex has been named Active Workplace of the Year  in a star-studded ceremony where we were joined a line up of winners of different categories including international gold medallists, a parkrun hero and a community champion.

The Essex Activity Awards, held by Active Essex, offer a chance to recognise and celebrate individuals, groups, clubs, schools, and workplaces who have achieved something great this year, or have strived to ensure others have had the opportunities to find their active.

The evening was hosted by Dr Zoe Williams, TV Presenter and Danny Crates, Paralympic Gold Medallist. A total of 11 accolades were handed out in the 11th annual awards ceremony, held at Chelmsford City Racecourse on Tuesday 6th December, with support from Headline Sponsor Writtle University College. There were over 500 nominations for the Essex Activity Award categories this year, with over 3,000 votes cast by the public.

Healthwatch Essex won the Active Workplace category for our work developing a culture focussed on wellbeing. Since the pandemic  the senior management team has worked on a wellbeing policy to support staff with flexible working, enhanced communication and a focus on work-life balance. We have set aside a fund each year to support individual wellbeing with £200 per staff member allocated to be spent on something that improves wellbeing. Information on local gym memberships, exercise classes, meditation apps and specific wellbeing courses have been provided as a range of possible uses for the fund. So far, staff have been using this in different ways including; one off purchases of an exercise app and devise to track activity, a monthly private physio appointment, subscriptions to Mindspace and a monthly gym membership.  A recreation club offering football, cricket, tennis, and gym facilities is also available a short walk from the office. Staff have been encouraged to fit physical activity into their day, even if that means breaking from work for an hour to attend a class or go for a run.

A Healthwatch Essex spokesperson said: “We are delighted to have been recognised with this prestigious award. We know that our staff are happier and stay well when they are supported with their wellbeing and, given how much of our time we spend at work, it’s important that we take the time to promote the importance of taking good care of ourselves at work. That’s why we decided to provide the flexibility at work for people to build wellbeing time into their working day and provided staff with a small personal budget specifically for their wellbeing. It’s not a one size fits all solution. We all have different things that help us feel well, physically and mentally, so the fund provides the opportunity for people to make choices which are bespoke to them.”

Our trustee, Neil Jones, collected the award on our behalf and was one of 180 guests who attended the ceremony. The audience heard stories from the shortlisted nominees, interviews with the winners, and talks from some VIP guests, which included Wali Noori. Wali worked for the British Army as an interpreter in Afghanistan and spoke about his story of being caught up in a devastating bomb blast in an IED explosion orchestrated by the Taliban. After becoming blind, Wali has now become an accomplished athlete, running in various athletic competitions, as well as the London Marathon. His inspiring story, as well as so many others on the night will no doubt encourage others to strive for success and achieve in their own way.